The frequency of construction site accidents is on the rise over the last several years, especially here in New York City.
According to a recent report from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, there were 25 construction accident fatalities in 2015, the most recent year for which there is full information. That was compared to 17 in 2011. When looking at accidents involving fatalities or severe injuries, there were 435 in 2015—compared to just 128 in 2011.
City construction site safety experts have pinpointed several different factors contributing to this increase.
Rebounding economy leads to boom in construction projects
First, it is important to provide at least a little context to the numbers. There has been a significant increase in the number of construction projects across the city since 2011, primarily because the economy has largely rebounded from the recession of 2008-2009. By 2013, the city’s construction industry was beginning to grow at a rapid pace once again, and that steady growth has continued to this year.
More construction projects lead to more construction jobs. Thus, it comes as little surprise that there would be more construction site accidents occurring. However, there is certainly more to the story, especially when you consider just how much the number of accidents has grown over the past six years.
Fewer inspections being performed at construction sites
This is perhaps the most concerning of the primary causes behind the rising numbers of construction site accidents. While there were 2,722 safety inspections performed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the state safety office in 2011, there were only 1,966 in 2015. That represents a 27 percent drop, despite the significant rise in the construction accident rate. There has also been a decrease in OSHA inspectors employed in the state. There had been 82 in 2012, but as of 2015, there were only 66.
Many state safety officials fear that under President Donald Trump, who has promised to overhaul important regulations affecting OSHA and the construction industry, there could end up being significantly fewer inspections yet. This could cause the construction accident rate to spike even more.
To put the importance of these inspections into perspective: in 2014, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) examined approximately 2,000 OSHA site visits and discovered that approximately 70 percent of those visits resulted in safety citations. If 70 percent of sites have demonstrable safety violations, then how many such violations are being missed with fewer inspections happening?
Some builders may be cutting corners on expenses
Thirdly, while there is not the same hard data for this cause as there is for the previous two, there have been many fears among safety experts that builders in the city are cutting corners in the name of profitability. A lack of proper safety protocols could lead to more construction injury cases.
As such, there has been an unprecedented effort on the part of safety officials to shut down projects or repeal licenses of construction firms that routinely violate the city’s construction and safety codes.
Contact A Construction Site Accident Lawyer In NYC
For the guidance you need after sustaining a workplace injury, consult a respected New York construction accident lawyer at Robinson & Yablon, P.C. We have more than 100 years of combined service in personal injury law and serve injured people in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.